Josh Bowmar Pleads Guilty, Awaits Sentencing | Deer & Deer Hunting

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Disgraced bowhunting celebrity Josh Bowmar has pleaded guilty to one count of a federal indictment in Nebraska stemming from hunts that took place more than five years ago.

Federal officials indicted Bowmar and his wife, Sarah, both formerly of Ohio and now of Iowa, on multiple counts of illegal hunting and violations of the federal Lacey Act. The Nebraska outfitter who guided them previously pleaded guilty to multiple charges, along with 30 other people who were indicted. Nebraska officials said it is the biggest case in state history involving wildlife crimes.

Josh Bowmar pled guilty to one misdemeanor charge, according to U.S. District Court documents, and signed the agreement Oct. 12. His attorney, Kline Preston of Nashville, signed on Oct. 13. Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald J. Kleine finalized it Oct. 19. Sarah Bowmar was not part of the plea agreement.

According to the court documents in United States of America vs Josh Bowmar:

Defendant agrees to plead guilty to Count I of the Information. Count I charges misdemeanor a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

Defendant further agrees, in satisfaction of the Forfeiture Allegation, to the entry of a money judgment against him in the amount of $44,000, and agrees that such sum is proceeds from the conspiracy to possess, transport, or sell fish or wildlife alleged in Count I of the Information. Thus, said amount is forfeitable to the United States pursuant to the provisions of · 16 U.S.C. § 3374 and 28 U.S.C. § 2461, and the procedures outlined in Fed. R. Crim. P. 32.2. The defendant agrees to pay a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $44,000 (the “Forfeiture Money Judgment”).

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In exchange for the plea, the remaining charges will be dropped at the time of sentencing, which is to be determined. The United States also will return to Bowmar a Hoyt Defiant compound bow and three mule deer mounts or antlers seized during the investigation.

Bowmar could face a maximum of one year in prison, up to $100,000 in fines, a year’s probation and “possible ineligibility for certain Federal benefits.” Bowmar also would be prohibited from hunting “or engage in any activities associated with hunting” in Nebraska for the duration of his probation or supervised release. Additionally, at the time of sentencing he would pay $25,000 to the Lacey Act Reward Account, and any restitution ordered by the court would be paid to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Game Law Investigative Fund. The $44,000 previously forfeited was the value “of property used to facilitate the conspiracy alleged in Count I of the Information.”

Kline, the Bowmars’ attorney, previously had stated they would seek a jury trial.

“This is a fight between ethical hunters, the Bowmars, and the federal government which is using the Lacey Act against them,” Preston wrote in October 2020. “The Lacey Act is an abusive piece of federal legislation that is used to excessively punish hunters for alleged minor infractions which are the equivalent of a speeding ticket under state law. The Lacey Act makes a traffic-like offense into a serious federal case. It is often abused by forcing honest, ethical hunters to plead guilty in order to avoid the risk of excessive fines and substantial jail time.

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“The Bowmars have elected to stand on their rights and fight these charges before a jury rather than accept a deal. The Bowmars are fighting for their rights and those of other ethical hunters, as well.”

In explaining Bowmar’s crime, federal officials detailed the following in the 9-page plea agreement:

Defendant understands that the offense to which defendant is pleading guilty has the following elements:

  1. That two or more persons reached an agreement or came to an understanding to knowingly attempt to transport and acquire wildlife, or parts thereof, in interstate commerce, when in the exercise of due care, the defendant should have known that said wildlife was attempted to be taken, possessed, and transported in violation of and in a matter unlawful under the regulations of Nebraska;
  2. That defendant was a party to or member of that agreement or understanding;
  3. That defendant knew the purposes of the agreement or understanding; and
  4. That while the agreement or understanding was in effect, at least one of its members performed an overt act in order to further the objective of the agreement.

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